black and white

Sometimes its hard to tell the exact nature of our situations.

Hasty judgements may be made in what first appear to be straightforward decisions.  But then, subtle auburn brown highlights hinting at angles we had not yet considered flicker in the light of newly acquired information and we are unsure.   What is thought to be one thing, turns out to be something else.  Even situations which are recognizably black and white on one level may hold surprising variances in other aspects.

A slight shift in position or the shedding of presuppositions may change everything.

What we once thought to be certain regarding our observations turns out to be a distinct species of another kind of need altogether.  What we once fought so hard for turns out to lack sufficient insight to convey certitude and its hard to decide what is best.   What we had once been taught as fact turns out to be both right and left of truth depending on so many factors it is difficult to say.

Seeking discernment in our particular contexts requires patient self-discipline to observe and assess all things over time, a careful reminding that we may not yet be aware of all the overlapping details of significance, a prayerful minding of incongruences to find the true nature of what is going on both within us and around us.

Without grooming a daily habit of deep reflection and attentive listening, we may find ourselves caring for pet concerns which are out of touch with sharing his gospel of reconciling peace in every sphere of decision; we may miss the underlying message in a flurry of fluffy unsupported argumentation and brush aside what is really being said; we may fail to wait for wisdom to rightly apply knowledge and serve up mistaken conclusions.

Perhaps its time to curl up on a chair, heads tucked away in prayer for the purpose of sorting through obscurities that have been niggling in the back of our minds for some time.

“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.”  (James 1: 5)

Things might have been different for Judas if he had looked again into Jesus’ eyes and been transformed by the truth of who he is.  Peter may not have spurned his greatest friend if he had looked up to meet the Saviour’s gaze before raising his protest in the garden court.  Jewish leaders may have returned to prophetic passages and heard them with new ears to welcome their King.

Its so easy to be wrong.

Religious leaders thought Jesus, claiming to be Messiah, was denying the Father who had sent him as the One.  Demons howled victorious over what they thought was the destruction of their prey.  Everyone thought a body torn to shreds as if a passover lamb to be consumed could not live again.

It appeared the song of hope would be left unsung for another day.

Jesus.  Dead and gone.  Black and white.

Into confusion, fear-mongering Pharisees spoke a word of dread, left threats hanging in the air with images of cross beams jarring disciples to bar doors in an effort to keep themselves safe within from prying eyes, to keep the faith without falling so deeply into grief a shout of agony would pierce the night, betraying friends.

And so they huddled close, curled in sleepless balls of feral fear, close to terror, close to sorrow, close to error, close to borrowed trouble, curled in creeping walls of cruel jeers for thinking he was the One who was to come and redeem Israel.

Things aren’t always as they seem.

That which may initially catch our eye as obvious isn’t as doggedly clear as we’d like to think.  The kiss of a pal may come with claws of betrayal as spiteful jealousy toys with thirty shekels of silver sending a traitor to his end.   The purr of a friend may contain the bite of a foe with frightful pussyfooting around direct questions when heckled by an accusation of truth which later causes a disciple to slink away and weep bitterly.

And the death of Jesus becomes our life and hope.

“For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God … None of the rulers of this age understood this, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.  But, as it is written, ‘What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him’ – these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit.  For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God.”  (1 Corinthians 1: 18;  2: 7-10)

There is wisdom in not passing judgement too quickly on the nature of the beastly issues settled nearby until the Spirit shows us all we need to know for leading with our eyes wide open to his loving purposes.

If we were to step back and take a fresh look at our situations, where might we be shown that we are seeing with only partial clarity?

Spirit of the living God, awaken us from sleep to gaze on you who makes all things right according to your good purposes beyond our wildest dreams.  Help us learn to see things as you do so we will walk in truth and rest in peace together in the decisions we make as your people, black and white, jew and gentile, male and female, slave and free, grounded in your love.  Amen.”

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